Motor Tax

Questions (141)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

141. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding motor tax payments for those who have been cocooning due to Covid-19; the rebate options open to them; and the details of same. [6725/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Motor tax is payable is a vehicle is being used in a public place.

However, there is a facility in place to declare a vehicle off the road in advance where it is not going to be in use in a public place. A declaration of non-use must be made in the last month of an existing motor tax disc or renewed in the last month of a previously made declaration of non-use. The declaration can be made for any number of calendar months between 3 and 12 months i.e. it cannot be made for a period of 1 or 2 months. If a vehicle is subsequently required to be put back on the road during the period covered by the declaration of non-use, the declaration can be broken at any time simply by taxing the vehicle.

Motor tax legislation also provides for refunds in certain limited circumstances, including where a vehicle has been scrapped or destroyed, permanently exported, stolen and not recovered, where the vehicle has not been used in a public place at any time since the issue of a disc, where the owner of a vehicle has ceased to use the vehicle because of illness, injury or other physical disability, or due to absence from the State for business purposes, educational purposes or service overseas with the Defence Forces.

There are no plans currently to amend the legislation to extend the grounds for the granting of a refund.

Driver Licences

Questions (142)

Richard Bruton

Question:

142. Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Transport if plans are in train to make it mandatory for learner permit holders to sit a test and demonstrate proof they have failed before they apply for a successive learner permit. [6751/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I am aware that there are a large number of people driving on our roads on their 4th, 5th, 6th or subsequent learner permit. While it is legal for a learner permit holder to drive on our roads as long as they are accompanied by a qualified person, I agree there is a need to reduce the number of people driving on recurring learner permits without clear reasons.

In late 2019, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) forwarded proposals to this Department setting out possible measures that could be introduced to encourage learner drivers to sit a driving test. Such measures included, for a fifth or subsequent permit, an increase in the cost of the permit; a decrease in the duration of a permit; a requirement to take mandatory lessons with an approved driving instructor and a requirement to take a driving test before another permit can be issued. The objective is to make it a disincentive to rely long term on a learner permit. These measures took account of the shorter wait times for tests and the increased tester resources that were available to the RSA at the end of 2019.

The proposal was examined and a policy decision was made to amend the law. However, since then, urgent measures introduced to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic have taken precedence and the proposals will need to be re-examined in light of current conditions. The cessation of services in March 2020 and further curtailing of services during subsequent level 5 restrictions in 2020 and 2021 has led to a backlog of people awaiting driving tests. Therefore, it would be prudent to delay any changes to regulations to make it mandatory for long term permit holders to sit a test until the driving test service has stabilised. The position will be kept under review.

National Driver Licensing Service

Questions (143)

Richard Bruton

Question:

143. Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Transport the number of times drivers have failed to attend for a scheduled driver test at NDLS centres in 2019 and 2020; the impact this had on waiting times; if the system for scheduling tests is robust enough to minimise waiting times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6752/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

This is an operational matter for the Road Safety Authority. I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

Road Projects

Questions (144)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

144. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport the status of the construction of the N22 Baile Bhuirne to Macroom, County Cork, road development; if the project is progressing on schedule and within budget; the earliest anticipated date of completion and opening of phases of the project; the overall completion timeline; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6823/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for overall policy and securing exchequer funding in relation to the National Roads Programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 and in line with the National Development Plan (NDP), the planning, design and construction of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. This is also subject to the Public Spending Code Guidelines and the necessary statutory approvals. In this context, TII is best placed to advise you on the status of this project.

Noting the above position, I have referred your question to TII for a direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Airport Passenger Data

Questions (145)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

145. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Transport the number of passengers departing Ireland from Dublin, Cork or Shannon airports for a location in the EU (details supplied) in each week of November and December 2020 and January 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6830/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Aviation statistics on passengers leaving and arriving into Ireland through State Airports by country of departure or destination country are published on gov.ie at: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/b61012-aviation-statistics/#weekly-stats-by-country-for-the-three-state-airports-for-2021.

Statistics are compiled on the basis of the flight origin or destination, rather than origin or possible final destination of the passenger. All the statistics are provisional figures provided by the airports and are subject to change.

EU Issues

Questions (146)

Joe Carey

Question:

146. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Transport the progress made with the European Commission to introduce an airport charges rebate scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6854/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government has put in place a range of supports for businesses in response to the COVID crisis. The aviation sector continues to avail of those, particularly the wage subsidy scheme.

However, in recognition of the very difficult circumstances being faced by airports and taking account of the recommendations of the Taskforce for Aviation Recovery, the Government also announced an €80m funding package specifically for the aviation sector in November 2020 which included the proposal for an airport charges/route support scheme, among other schemes, to be taken forward in 2021.

The Government has earmarked a budget of €20 million for this scheme, which is subject to the approval of the European Commission in line with State aid rules.

In this context, my Department is in active engagement with the Commission. Good progress is being made and, if approved, any new schemes will augment the supports already in place. My Department will continue to monitor the financial impact of COVID-19 on the Irish aviation sector on an ongoing basis, in consultation with all key stakeholders and relevant Government Departments.

Driver Licences

Questions (147)

Jackie Cahill

Question:

147. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Transport if a person is still insured to drive while waiting for a licence renewal in circumstances in which a renewal is being processed which is not ongoing due to Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6939/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Insurance companies are private companies who enter into private contracts with their policy holders. EU rules specifically prohibit Member States from interfering in the terms and conditions of these policies.

It is a matter for each policy holder to examine their policy documents carefully, and to seek clarification from their motor insurance company where necessary.

Due to the recent resurgence of Covid 19, , the EU is planning to extend driving licences. A decision is expected on this matter shortly.

Rail Network

Questions (148)

Cormac Devlin

Question:

148. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Transport when the tender for the expected new DART carriages is due to be signed; when he is expecting delivery of these carriages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6956/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure, including the DART+ programme.

In view of the NTA's statutory responsibility regarding the specific issues raised, I have referred the Deputy's question to it for direct reply. Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Transport Policy

Questions (149)

Cormac Devlin

Question:

149. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Transport the progress made in implementing the Taxi Advisory Committee’s report and key recommendations of July 2020; the status of the Taxi Advisory Committee with regard to vacancies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6957/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Deputy may wish to be aware that most of the recommendations from the Advisory Committee’s report of July 2020 have been completed. Key recommendations implemented include my Department providing funding to the NTA to enable it to waive its standard annual SPSV (vehicle) licence renewal fees in 2021, and the NTA extending vehicle age limits to the end of 2021. The €15 million expansion of the eSPSV scheme should also assist drivers making the switch to electric vehicles by doubling the support available to those with older vehicles.

The Advisory Committee has a statutory duty to advise the Minister and the National Transport Authority (NTA) on issues relevant to small public service vehicles (SPSVs) and their drivers. There are currently five vacancies on the Advisory Committee some of which, as the Deputy may be aware, have been carried since a competition in 2019 organised by the Public Appointments Service failed to attract a sufficient number of qualified applicants.

The Advisory Committee has played an important role in providing advice on how best to support the SPSV industry through this difficult time. A real strength of the Advisory Committee is that it enjoys a broad membership with members representing driver interests, dispatch operators, passenger interests, and official stakeholders such as Local Government and An Garda Síochána.

I have consulted the NTA and asked them to work with driver representatives and consider the best approach to filling these vacancies to ensure that the Advisory Committee features strong and effective representation for taxi drivers, limousine chauffeurs, and hackney drivers. This includes consideration of how best to ensure appropriate urban and rural driver representation. I look forward to filling the outstanding vacancies following the outcome of this work.

Road Safety

Questions (150)

Cormac Devlin

Question:

150. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Transport his plans to review or amend the national guidelines for setting and managing speed limits in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6958/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The 2020 Programme for Government includes a commitment to review and reduce speed limits, where appropriate, to address both road safety issues and carbon emissions, and ensure greater compliance. In implementing this commitment, consideration will be given, in the first instance, to the legislative framework relating to speed limits and following on from that consideration any necessary revisions to the speed limit guidelines will be examined.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (151, 175, 182)

Alan Dillon

Question:

151. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Transport the measures being taken to support the aviation sector in Ireland; the supports that have been issued to Irish airlines; the engagement that has taken place with representative bodies of airline staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6962/21]

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Catherine Connolly

Question:

175. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Transport if representations by staff of companies (details supplied) highlighting the ongoing uncertainty of the Irish aviation sector have been brought to his attention; his plans to extend urgent financial support to these airlines following the example of New Zealand, Portugal and the UK in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7280/21]

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Cathal Crowe

Question:

182. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Transport if further supports beyond the €80 million package announced in November 2020 will be made available to the Irish aviation industry. [7331/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 151, 175 and 182 together.

The Government has put in place a range of supports for businesses, including those in the aviation sector. The supports include the wage subsidy scheme, alleviation of commercial rates, deferral of tax liabilities, the COVID Restrictions Support Scheme, the Credit Guarantee Scheme, and the SBCI Working Capital Scheme.

As regards supports specifically targeted at the protection of employment, the Employment Wage Subsidy Schemes (EWSS) has been a key component of the Government's response to the COVID-19 crisis to support viable firms and encourage employment amid these very challenging times. The EWSS higher subsidy rate will apply until 31 March 2021. The scheme will continue during 2021 and the Government will decide on the form of its extension when economic conditions are clearer, guided by what the economy requires at that time to support the expected economic recovery.

In November, the Government also agreed a revised €80 million funding package specifically for Irish aviation in recognition of the very difficult circumstances facing the sector. My Department is currently engaging with the European Commission regarding formal approval of this package which will be implemented in line with EU State aid rules.

Any additional supports designed to facilitate growth of air traffic can only be progressed at the appropriate time, taking account of the outlook for the easing of travel restrictions and improving wider epidemiological conditions.

I will continue to monitor the financial impact of COVID-19 on the Irish aviation sector on an ongoing basis in consultation with relevant Government Ministers and all key stakeholders.

Coast Guard Service

Questions (152)

Seán Haughey

Question:

152. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Transport his plans to expand the Irish Coast Guard station in Howth, County Dublin; if plans for the leasing of the land by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to his Department in order to facilitate this expansion can be finalised without delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6982/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Howth Coast Guard Station is currently on the OPW Building Maintenance Programme for a proposed extension to the rear of the station. This programme is managed by the OPW and my Department provides funding for these projects.

IRCG is currently awaiting both the transfer of the site on which the station is built and an additional adjoining site from Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine before this project can be progressed any further. This issue is currently being dealt with by the Chief State Solicitors Office.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (153)

Bríd Smith

Question:

153. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Transport if he has given consideration to a declaration signed by several Ministers for Transport in the EU calling for certain measures to be taken to insure social responsibility in the aviation sector (details supplied); if he will sign this declaration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6991/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

There is a wide range of Irish and EU law governing employment rights generally, which also apply to employees in the aviation sector in Ireland. The regulation of employment and social protection in the Aviation sector in Ireland is in line with all EU regulations and Irish employment law.

The European Commission, in consultation with Member States, regularly monitors the impact of the aviation internal market on employment and working conditions. Ireland recognises the importance of this work and fully supports it as an important element of the EU internal aviation market.

Ireland is represented on the Commission’s Working Group tasked with reviewing employment conditions in the aviation sector. The Subgroup on social matters related to aircrews (of the Expert Group on the Aviation Internal Market) was created as a key deliverable of the Social report on aviation COM(2019) 120 final. Its aim is to bring together experts both from the aviation side and the employment side of the national administrations to ensure cooperation and coordination on the implementation of EU legislation in relation to aircrews, to share information, and to exchange views on good practices and on how labour law rules may be better enforced in relation to aircrews in order to ensure fair working conditions and a level playing field. Two priority topics were identified by this sub-group for initial attention: self-employment and enforcement of applicable law relating to aircrew and work is ongoing.

Given the extensive laws in place in relation to employment and protection of workers, any change should be clearly evidence based and ensure appropriate consideration of issues such as enterprise development, innovation and expanded employment opportunities. Ireland has consistently argued that matters related to employment rights should continue to be developed on an economy wide basis and not on a sector specific basis.

I will continue to engage with all stakeholders and relevant departments in relation to these matters, including the issues raised by some Member States in their joint statement on 9 December. It is a matter for the Commission in the first instance to determine, in the light of the ongoing work, whether it is appropriate to bring forward a proposal for legislation.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (154)

Paul McAuliffe

Question:

154. Deputy Paul McAuliffe asked the Minister for Transport the requirements regarding PPE for driving instructors when providing driver lessons, in particular face masks and hand sanitisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6994/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

With regard to the wearing of PPE and the making of appropriate safety arrangements, I would like to clarify to the Deputy that driving instructors and driving schools are entirely independent operators and neither the Road Safety Authority nor my Department can dictate how they run their individual businesses. It is up to each driving instructor or driving school to protect themselves, their employees, their families and their customers by adhering to the official Government guidelines on mask wearing and hygiene and, where applicable, guidance from the Labour Employer Economic Forum and the Health and Safety Authority.

Driver Test

Questions (155)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

155. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport the reason a person (details supplied) cannot get a driver test given that they are an essential worker. [7009/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

While this is an operational matter for the RSA, under current level 5 restrictions , driver tests are only being scheduled for essential workers involved in the provision of essential services and retail outlets. Anyone looking for an urgent driving test appointment and falls into either of these categories can apply to book a driving test at www.myroadsafety.ie If there is no available slot and they have made an application, they can ask to be prioritised by accessing https://www.rsa.ie/en/RSA/Learner-Drivers/The-Driving-Test/Request-an-urgent-driving-test/ and providing the relevant details.

While there is some capacity for urgent test slots, it must be understood that the Road Safety Authority (RSA)'s capacity to make these available in all cases will be limited.

Shannon Airport Facilities

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deput

under Standing Order 51

Questions (156)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

156. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Transport further to Parliamentary Question No. 153 of 3 February 2021, if his Department was informed of the number of US military personnel on board the aircraft (details supplied); if so, the details of same; if services such as cleaning or the supply of food and refreshments were made to this aircraft while it was at Shannon Airport; if so, the persons or group that carried out the services; if they were they required to board the plane; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7020/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

My Department has no statutory function with regard to the transit of foreign military personnel through Irish sovereign territory or Irish airports, and my officials do not request information on the number of passenger on such flights.

Air operators may detail the number of passengers proposed to be carried while applying for an exemption pursuant to Article 5 of the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Orders, 1973 and 1989. However, this number is neither recorded, or considered a definitive figure, as it can change closer to the commencement date of the flight concerned.

In this instance, my Department confirmed that 238 troops were detailed on the applicable application form, and Shannon Group plc. confirmed that 226 passengers were onboard for this particular flight.

The provision of ground handling services such as cleaning and catering would be an operational matter for the airport. I have forwarded these elements of your question to Shannon Group plc. for direct reply.

If you do not receive a reply from the Company within ten working days, please advise my Private Office.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 51

Driver Licences

Questions (157)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

157. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport the number of learner permit holders disqualified in court in 2018, 2019 and up to 31 October 2020; the agency responsible for informing the driver in writing of the disqualification and of the requirement to surrender their permit to the RSA; the number of notification letters sent out by this agency each year; the number of drivers who returned their permit to the RSA each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7037/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I am passing the Deputy's question to the Road Safety Authority for direct reply. If a reply has not been received within 10 working days, the Deputy should contact my office.

Driver Licences

Questions (158)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

158. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport the number of full licence holders disqualified in court in 2018, 2019 and up to 31 October 2020; the agency responsible for informing these drivers in writing of the disqualification and of the requirement to surrender their licence to the RSA; the number of notification letters sent out by this agency each year; the number of drivers that returned their licence each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7038/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I am passing the Deputy's question to the Road Safety Authority for direct reply. If a reply has not been received within 10 working days, the Deputy should contact my office.

Road Safety

Questions (159)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

159. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport the number and details of action plans in the road safety strategy 2013-20 that were not completed by the end of 2020; when he plans to publish the next road safety strategy 2021-30; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7039/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Four Actions, 88, 95, 105 and 107, the details of which are below, have not yet been completed from the Road Safety Strategy 2013-2020. There are also 3 extra Actions that were added mid-term which have yet to be completed (Actions 5, 11, and 21).

The Road Safety Authority are working on the 2021 - 2030 Road Safety Strategy which should be published in Quarter Two of this year.

Description of Actions not completed:

Action 88: Review Policy on licensing of road transport operators to assess if own account operators should be included.

Current Position: Initial scoping did not identify this action as a priority, and furthermore this is not required under EU law. The vast majority of EU Member States do not licence "Own Account" operators (i.e. those carrying their own goods and not carrying goods for hire and reward for others). It is important to note that own account operators are of course required to comply with the EU drivers' hours rules (i.e. for goods-carrying vehicles where the permissible mass of the vehicle, including any trailer or semi-trailer, is greater than 3.5 tonnes, and drivers are required to comply with the Driver CPC requirements etc)

Action 95: Legislate for the expansion of RSA Enforcement Officer statutory powers to allow for Driver CPC requirements to be enforced as part of roadside checks

The feasibility of legislating for the RSA requirements in this regard is to be further examined and if deemed necessary, legal advice sought in relation to such. In any event, primary legislation would be necessary to implement this action.

Action 105: Make it compulsory for a breakdown emergency pack including a first aid kit, a high visibility vest, a breakdown triangle and a torch to be carried in all vehicles by end 2014

There are no plans to make a submission to the Minister at this time.

Action 107: Legislate for subject to legal advice, and implement rehabilitation and driving awareness courses as court-based sentencing options for specific offenders

Recommendations by the Road Safety Authority were submitted to DTTAS for consideration by the Minister

Mid Term Review Actions:

Action 5: Extend fixed charge notice system in respect of road transport offences

Work is ongoing on drafting legal provisions in this regard

Action 11: Expand funding to TII to cover anticipated costs for national road minor realignment schemes and pavement renewal of existing national road network in line with the targets set out in the Government Road Safety Strategy 2013-2020

(not achievable - covered by Actions 53 and 61)

Action 21: Seek legal advice in relation to section 8 of the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 to establish if the RSA has the vires to access necessary information and statistics from other statutory agencies relating to road safety

Amending the Road Safety Authority Act is on hold due to Covid, Brexit and the very full legislative programme already in process.